What Is Amazon DynamoDB?

In this course, you will learn the basics of Amazon DynamoDB, which is a fully managed, serverless, key-value NoSQL database.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, you will have a greater understanding of Amazon DynamoDB, including:

  • What the service does and the benefit it provides
  • When to use the service 
  • Basic DynamoDB terminology 
  • How it relates to other databases
  • How to interact with the database using the DynamoDB API

Intended Audience

  • Those who are interested in an introductory course on Amazon DynamoDB
  • Those looking to take an AWS certification, such as the AWS Certified Developer - Associate Certification



Amazon DynamoDB is a fully managed, serverless, NoSQL database service. What does that mean? Well, let's break this definition down into parts. 

By "fully managed," we mean that the DynamoDB service is responsible for provisioning and maintaining the underlying infrastructure. There's no database administration required on your end, no servers to provision or retire, no operating system and database patching, no sharding, no replication, and no backup complexity. All of this is handled for you by AWS. 

Similarly, what we mean by the phrase “serverless” is that all server and server administration is completely invisible to the user. There are still servers that run DynamoDB behind the scenes, but they are not your responsibility. AWS takes care of them. All you are responsible for is your data and how you model that data. 

To model your data effectively, it helps to understand the type of database you’re using. DynamoDB is a NoSQL database. NoSQL databases, aka “not-only SQL” databases, store data differently than relational databases, depending on their data model. The most common NoSQL data models are key-value, document, graph, and wide-column databases. Amazon DynamoDB is most commonly used as a key-value database, although it does support document access patterns as well.

So what is a key-value database? 

Well, it’s a collection of key-value pairs, where the key is a unique identifier for the particular item or record. You access your data based on these keys. Generally, to provide quick access to data, these key-value stores need to be highly partitionable and scalable. Two things which DynamoDB excels at. 

That’s it for this one - see you in the next one. 

About the Author
Learning Paths

Alana Layton is an experienced technical trainer, technical content developer, and cloud engineer living out of Seattle, Washington. Her career has included teaching about AWS all over the world, creating AWS content that is fun, and working in consulting. She currently holds six AWS certifications. Outside of Cloud Academy, you can find her testing her knowledge in bar trivia, reading, or training for a marathon.